From smart phones and hybrid cars to sophisticated energy storage systems and airplanes, batteries and the combustion risks that accompany them, are now commonplace. The sources of the impetus are clear. As a society, we grow more reliant upon electronics, and the electricity that powers them, each day. Simultaneously, we crave energy sourced from clean and renewable resources. These battery systems provide the means to store our lifestyle sustaining energy, often produced by wind and solar sources that generate power on Mother Nature’s schedule rather than by consumer demand.
Without battery storage, our electricity must be continuously generated by the renewable and non-renewable sources currently in use. This places a huge burden on our already aging-infrastructure and greatly increases the impact that the ability to store energy can have. For example, battery banks could allow consumers to have a smoother and less interrupted flow of electricity during unplanned outages.
While the article below discusses the hazards these battery systems pose to firefighters, they also have the potential to cause serious harm to buildings, vehicles, and people should the batteries overheat and ignite. Advanced design storage batteries are being used on new aircrafts to power the increasing electrical equipment loads, just as Tesla makes battery powered cars. Both have encountered problems with overheating battery banks and thermal runaways. Such battery banks are currently being designed on a smaller scale for typical daily use in households and businesses, where consumers can store the energy they generate themselves.
In our modern-day society, the design and manufacturing of these products will continue to grow in quantity, the question is, how can we make them safer?
Article posted on http://www.scientificamerican.com/
Smoke, sirens and flashing lights interrupted the night on Aug. 1, 2012, as a fire took hold at the remote Kahuku wind farm along the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The blaze sparked at 3:30 a.m. in a metal warehouse with 12,000 lead acid batteries mounted in racks towering more than 6 feet high.
The 10-megawatt battery system, installed by Xtreme Power, was used to buffer electricity from the 12-turbine, 30 MW wind farm operated by First Wind, smoothing out spikes and low spots in wind power production.